The concept of sovereignty is typically reserved for self-governing states.
Yet at the core of self-governance is the ability to sustain a population’s livelihood, something impossible to achieve without access to food.
When European settlers arrived in North America they forced indigenous people not only from their ancestral lands but also from their ancestral food sources.
In recent years the food sovereignty movement among indigenous communities has made strides in visibility. The Sioux Chef, aka Oglala Lakota Sioux chef Sean Sherman, will speak at a food sovereignty gathering Sunday and Monday at the American Wilderness Healing Barn in Wilson.
Sherman is a central figure in the movement to decolonize indigenous diets. He will give the keynote address at the event and have copies of his James Beard Medal-winning cookbook, “The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen,” available to sign.
In 2014 Sherman opened his own business, The Sioux Chef, to address that dearth of indigenous food systems knowledge.
Sherman said food sovereignty is only one of many aspects in which indigenous people’s voices and perspectives are not visible in the mainstream.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about indigenous culture in general,” Sherman said, “because we live in an era where it’s still so normal to see so much cultural appropriation against indigenous peoples, from sports team mascots to brands using Native American people as mascots on all sorts of stuff from butter to baking powder, and even politicians using terms like ‘Pocahontas.‘”
Sherman hopes to get people thinking about the history of the land they live on and of the people who historically occupied it.
When now co-owner Dana Thompson first heard Sherman speak about food sovereignty, she was moved and decided to join the team. She is particularly passionate about The Sioux Chef’s education mission.
“Indigenous foods were systematically removed by the U.S. government over the course of 250 years of genocide,” she said. “And that’s not taught in schools, and people, even in tribal communities, don’t understand that.”
Local chef Emily Zuber will prepare a meal for attendees using recipes from “The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen.”
Locally foraged ingredients at the event will include Wyoming elk meat, wild amaranth, wild onions, nettles, fireweed, spring beauty and cattail roots.